This I Believe

jeanette - greenville, Wisconsin
Entered on September 23, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe it is essential that we own up to who we are and when we do, it is essential to remember to offer others, always, the unconditional acceptance we would like to receive as well.

What stirred my thoughts about this belief was listening to Pavarotti’s “Nesun Dorma” on the Saturday after hearing of his passing. While listening I thought, “No one knows my favorite song in the whole world is Nesun Dorma”. And I knew that it was because I have allowed myself to live like a chameleon, kept my head down rather than up.

I married and moved to a small Midwestern city from the Los Angeles county area in 1968. At 20 and again at 23, I became a mother. Short on the mechanics of mothering but fortunately supplied with a surplus of love, I stumbled through motherhood reading books and studying other mothers whose parenting I admired. But there were some things I knew I wanted for my children. I wanted them to be happy, kind, bold and brave, confident to pursue whatever dreams they might be holding in their hearts. Most of all, I wanted them to know abounding love for “who” they were. I wanted them to know unconditional love and acceptance. It was, I thought, what would allow them to navigate the world well. They would not look down and away. They would look up and straight ahead. My children would not find themselves lost.

But I, so far from family and friends, looked down and away, allowed my self to slip away in my new surroundings. My love of literature, formed at a very young age, remained static, so I continued to read late at night. Music was ever present in my family growing up, so there was always music in our home as well. But in other things I continued to shift, be shaped like sand dunes are formed by commanding winds in the Sahara, until, over time, I could seldom answer any question about likes and dislikes, wants, dreams, truthfully from my heart.

The last few years of my life appear to me to be not unlike the children’s book “It Looked like Spilt Milk” where shapes disappear and reappear and perspective matters. I came from a steady center but somehow lost my footing, regained it briefly and lost it again.

And so here I am trying to re-claim the self I rediscovered at 41 and lost again at fifty. Here I am again trying to be comfortable in my skin, not looking for nor needing anyone else’s approval, comfortable in being “just me”. Because of that I strive to, especially when working with children, to let them feel accepted for who they are that they are a gift just by simply being. That realization on a child’s face is stunning.

Life is too short to never walk tall, help others walk tall. Life is too short to be emptying cups rather than filling them.